Screenwriting : Subplots in pitches by Christian Conte

Christian Conte

Subplots in pitches

I'm thinking of doing a written pitch in the near future. Working on the two page pitch. Just wondering how much to try and get in sub plots. Any advice or thoughts?

Erik Grossman

Hrmmm that's a toughie. It depends on how ingrained into the main story it is. So if it's something you can mention off-hand and have it be a nice reveal at the end, it can be REALLY effective and only take up maybe a few sentences. Like let's say your main story is a character going from A to B, along the way (the subplot), one of the other characters is desperately trying to find a red ball. Your pitch goes through the journey and in the denouement of the piece, you round it out with "After escaping the Nazi dinosaurs, Bob finally makes it to B by swimming through a McDonald's ball pit to freedom. Jesse manages to stay with him, and in the pit finds what she's been looking for: the red ball." It's a nice touch that only takes up maybe a few sentences. IF however your subplot on it's own is some huge, overarching thing - then you probably need to rethink your subplot AND leave it out of your pitch :)

Christian Conte

Thanks once again Erik.

Regina Lee

Bravo, Erik! His advice has twice the clarity and conciseness of mine. That said, speaking to Erik's final sentence, "IF however your subplot on it's own is some huge, overarching thing - then you probably need to rethink your subplot AND leave it out of your pitch :)" Just want to add that in Series, subplots can be a major part of the show. You may not need to rethink the subplot if it's a major part of a Series; that may be fine for Series. But for the pitch, you probably don't need to dilute the focus by pitching a lot of subplot.

Erik Grossman

Thanks, Regina!! Great point with the series, it would be weird if you didn't mention that the detective who's just trying to do their job and the snarky, fish-out-of-water sidekick get it on, or that a serial killer pops up threatening them both, etc. etc.

Regina Lee

If I'm pitching HOMELAND, I don't think I'd spend any time pitching a subplot. If I'm pitching HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, I would have to pitch subplots because of how the show is constructed. It depends on how the movie/series is constructed. If you're pitching CRASH or LOVE ACTUALLY, you have to pitch subplots. But typically, as Erik said, in features, you probably wouldn't need to pitch subplots. Impossible to give feedback out of context.

Christian Conte

Thanks Regina!

Christian Conte

Thanks Kay!

Bill Costantini

I intertwine my B story with my A story in my pitches. It's important to the understandings of my whole story, since the B story has a lot to do with the whole story (duh), but maybe not so important to others. More power to all those who may feel differently. Good luck and Happy Writing and Happy Pitching, Christian! THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS TO THE PEOPLE AND ANIMALS OF UMBRIA, ITALY.

Christian Conte

Thanks Bill!

Dan Guardino

Kay. How do you do a phone pitch here. I thought they only did Skype pitches and written ones?

Dan Guardino

Kay. Thanks.

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